11 January, 2018

Heirloom Seeds: Who Knows?

One day a couple of years ago, I found a medicine bottle on my desk with some seeds.  Plastic medicine bottles, not being recyclable (because of the former contents) are a favorite for some seed savers. I looked for a note, but didn't find one, there was nothing written on the bottle, just a tablespoon's worth of seeds.

At first, I took them to be sweet pea seeds, but on a closer look these were okra seeds - larger than sweet pea seeds and missing the light spot (the "hilum" or the characteristic "eye" on many bean and pea seeds).  OK, so I had a tablespoon of okra seeds.  No note, no label, no nothing....  This was late summer and I put them aside - I figured we'd just grow it out and figure out what it was from the final product.

That's where we started.  In spring, I started six plants - gave a few away to interested parties and kept three to grow out at the garden.  It was a pretty normal flower for an okra, so we had nothing to help us there.  The plants grew strong and healthy, there was nothing unusual about the plants.  And when we got the fruit, guess what!

Not the best shot, but you can see the okra seeds,
round, in the center, ready to roll away.

It was just okra.  It was a good producer, nice pods, lovely flower, no complaints.  But it was **just okra**.  There was nothing that made it look different from any other okra on the planet.  It wasn't Burgundy okra, which would have had some reddish tones, it wasn't Jing, which is orange, it wasn't particularly long enough to be Perkin's Long Pod Okra.

Just an ordinary, gonna be gumbo again, okra.

After a deep breath, not having a wide variety of okra in the Seed Library, I decided to add it to the inventory and the only name to use was "Don't Knowkra."  And that's how we came up with our okra selection, Don't Knowkra - it is a good producer but an entirely average okra in all respects.  If you like okra, you'll not miss with Don't Knowkra.

The seeds roll right out of the pod when completely ripe -
in the meantime, they make for a creative shaker
instrument for children of all ages.
The okra seed pods are very interesting in that they ripen over a fairly long period of time and, as the pods age, the seeds simply roll out the end of the pod, and being round and all like that, they roll away from the mother plant.

I intend to revisit these pods again and take some photos with a quarter in them to show the relative size.  I'm more interested in saving seeds than shooting them!